According to Le Point, approximately 40% of cases handled by a private investigator pertain to Family Law.
A private investigator is a professional looking for legal evidence. Their job is to gather the information necessary to fulfill the mission they have been entrusted with: often to help their client to protect themselves from a risk or to defend their interests in court by providing a report that will be admissible in court (since judgment in principle Brunet v. Garnier of November 7th, 1962).
The law defines the activity as the "liberal profession that consists, for a person, of collecting, even without stating the quality or revealing the object of its mission, information intended for third parties, natural or legal persons, with a view to defending their interests ". The code of ethics of the profession specifies the duties incumbent to the detective: the legality, the legitimacy and the morality of their actions.
An investigator can therefore refuse a mission if he has doubts as to his legitimacy or about the client himself, who could have malicious intentions.
The field of intervention of a private investigator is broad and diverse.
It can act in the commercial field being commissioned by companies, for example for acts of unfair competition, theft of goods. Or when doubts weigh on an employee on sick leave. It can also work for insurance to foil insurance fraud such as to lift the veil on the situation of Mr. Dupont who says he is disabled but who plays football every Sunday...
Furthermore, it can be used in the civil field, and here are some examples:
• Marriage, divorce, or the dissolution of union: to prove adultery, a double life, abandonment of the marital home, or violence within the couple ... The detective can also intervene before said union, to avoid a so-called “gray marriage”, that is to say, a marriage where one of the spouses, who is a foreigner, has hidden their intentions to the other in order to obtain the benefits of the marriage.
• Cases involving a child who is a minor: whether the child's residence is fixed at the mother's, the father's, or evenly in the event of alternating custody, it is possible to have doubts about the child's treatment when he is at the home of the other parent. Indeed, the child could be left unattended, given to incompetent third parties or physically or psychologically abused. To protect and seek exclusive custody, evidence of these situations must be provided. It is also possible to use a detective to prove that the situation of the debtor of alimony has changed and have it re-evaluated. Finally, parents may be faced with the disappearance of their child. In 2015, just over 400 disappearances were deemed disturbing (remember Estelle Mouzin ...). The detective is there to gather clues about the circumstances of this disappearance.
• Protected Persons: People placed under protection are vulnerable. In case of doubt, and to protect them from malicious people who could engage them in illegal activities, or take advantage of their vulnerability to commit offenses against them, it is sometimes wise to hire a private investigator to verify their associates or their activities.
• The search for persons: children placed from birth at the Department of Child Services or at an adoption agency, or those whose parents' names are not mentioned on the birth certificates may naturally want to find their biological family, and the private investigator can help them. It is the same when it comes to finding an heir in case of succession.
This list is not exhaustive because the work of the investigator always adapts to the needs of his client while respecting an obligation: a respect for legality.
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